Thursday, August 31, 2006

Near Ghez

We finally left Kashgar! In a flurry of early morning massive quantities of food was stowed, the wonderfully fast Internet cafe was used & a fight concluded with the awful hotel staff one.

The fight in question was over a broken thermos flask that I'd reported to housekeeping. I was then blamed for its breakage & a huge long argument broke out. We were staying in a dorm room with others & they couldn't know which of those in the room had broken it. Their trump card was to withhold 10 Yuan (a little over a US Dollar) from the deposit that I had given for the key. Mine was to make a complaint to the police about the hotel. It went down to the wire but my card beat theirs, which was good as I didn't have the faintest clue how to get in touch with the police & the time lost doing so would have been worth much more than 10 Yuan. The rather shameful aspect of the whole thing was that I had broken the flask but didn't want to admit doing so on the grounds that the reception & housekeeping staff had been so consistently rude during the course of the stay & that the hotel should be 'punished' for this. It was rather petty.

We headed out of town on the Karakorum highway, which went through some nice Uighur districts with houses with mud walled houses & streets lined with poplars that had had their lower trunks white washed. Soon we got bored with the flat straight road across an arid plain that was interrupted from time to time by a village with irrigated village. In the distance the Eastern edge of the Pamirs & the 7719m Kongur Shan could be seen. The road met a river & started to rise more steadily. We met the foothills of the highlands that we'd be climbing into in the whole day. Around us rose dry hills completely barren of vegetation, though quite spectacular due to their bands of differing colours & the interesting patterns that rain & wind had eroded into them. Along the way we came across several groups of camels, one with a couple of babies.

I'd hoped that it would rise faster so that we'd have less climbing the following day. By day's end we were a little over 2100m, the following day we plan to camp beside Kara Kul lake at 3700m which makes for a difficult day to come not to mention risk (small) of altitude sickness.

We camped in a lovely spot away from the fairly quiet highway overlooking the lovely valley that we'd been going up.

I cycled 112 km in 7 hours & 13 minutes
Total so far 103681 km in 157 days
GPS Coordinates of end point - N 38°8.565, E 75°6.731

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